What a wonderful addition beach wheelchairs are to the lives of people with disabilities who want to access the beach and other rough surface, off road conditions. There are quite a few different designs out there, from the smooth, balloon type tyre we see most often in Australia, to tyres with a large tread, such as those sold in Melbourne by Achievable Concepts, one with solid wheels and even a style in America using a tank type tread system. One design actually floats once it is in the water and it is possible to purchase various additions such as

cup, fishing pole or umbrella holders online. Not a beach wheelchair, but also worth mentioning is the pool chair,which fills up with water so that it doesn't float and can be easily wheeled down a pool ramp and into the water. These days it is possible to buy beach wheelchairs ready or custom made, especially useful if you need tilting or reclining features or extra supports, straps etc. There is even a company which sells a DIY system for converting your own wheelchair into a beach version!.

Other items intended to help make the beach more accessible are now also becoming available. The following items have been designed with access to the beach or off-road in mind: baby jogger prams, walking frames and small carts intended for transporting fishing or other gear are now on the market.

Often local councils and community service groups such as surf life-saving clubs (SLSC), purchase beach wheelchairs so that they can be available for use in specific areas, such as a local beach. Some can even be borrowed for one or two weeks at a time, which is useful if you're on holiday. However, this highlights the need to ring first, as there is the possibility that you could roll up and find that the chair has already been lent out.

The following is a list of places where they can be either borrowed for free or for a gold coin donation. If there are additional costs involved then this is mentioned. As circumstances can change without warning, it is strongly recommended that you follow up for yourself before making plans around the use of beach wheelchairs from the list below. Australian states are listed in alphabetical order.

ACT NSW NT QLD SA TAS VIC WA

Canberra

none known at present.

New South Wales

  • Arrawarra Beach near Coffs Harbour – see NRMA Holiday Parks.

  • Ballina Visitor Information Centre, 6 River Street, Ballina. Contact for info re availability. Phone: 02 6686 3484. Free to hire. You fill out an application form and can keep for up to 2 weeks which would suit if you were holidaying in the area. They have two with tread type tyres. Can be obtained from the information centre which is open 9.00 a.m. To 5.00 p.m. Seven days a week.

  • Batemans Bay SLSC. Phone clubhouse captain, Tony Bella – 0417 213 415.

    • Eurobodalla area, George Bass Drive, Malua Bay. One chair with smooth tyres.

    • Out of season – Is from Anzac Day to just before the October long weekend. However, they might be able to help if you contact them at this time of year.

  • Bilgola Beach (Pittwater Shire) look for Freewheeler info under this link. SLSC phone number: 02 9918 2337.

  • Broulee Surfers SLSC. Phone clubhouse – 02 4471 6657 Eurobodalla area

    • Out of season 02 44716715 – Gordon Harris. Out of season is end of April until end of September.

    • Free to hire. Donations gladly accepted. Two chairs with smooth tyres available from SLS Club southern end of Heath Street, Broulee.

  • Byron Shire Council 1 available for use on Clarkes Beach.

  • Clarkes Beach see Byron Shire Council.

  • Coffs Harbour 1 available from Coffs Harbour Lifeguard Service at Park Beach.

    Contact Sonny Tisdell mobile: 0428 285 073. Available year round for up to 1 week. If nobody wants it after that you can negotiate for a second week. It can also be arranged to be taken to other beaches in the area if this suits. Also see NRMA Holiday Parks, Darlington Beach Holiday Park. Also see Coffs Harbour Yacht Club and Sawtell Beach.

  • Coffs Harbour Yacht Club. Phone: 02 6652 5844. Free beach wheelchair available from the club for day use on nearby Jetty Beach. The club is open from 11.00 a.m. Each day.

  • Collaroy Beach 1 available. Contact the Warringah Counchil Disability Services Officer phone (02) 99422787 to arrange booking and access to the chair. See the link for more info. There is also a swimming pool built into the natural rock face at one end of the beach and they also have a submersible wheelchair available which is suitable for wheeling around the concrete paths and into the pool.

  • Cronulla Beach see Sutherland Shire.

  • Jetty Beach, Coffs Harbour. See Coffs Harbour Yacht Club.

  • Manly Beach SLSC, The Surf Pavillion, South Steyne (corner of Ashburner Street), Manly. Contact the surf lifeguards on ph: 02 9976 1497 to arrange free hire. One chair available with blow up style tyres kept at surf pavillion.

  • Moruya SLSC Clubhouse 02 4474 2674 Eurobodalla area (Out of season 0408 846 880)

  • Narooma SLSC Clubhouse 02 4476 1745 Eurobodalla area (Out of season 02 4476 5052)

  • Newport Beach, Sydney (Pittwater Shire, look for Freewheeler info under this link). SLSC phone number (lifeguard): 02 99975116.

  • NRMA Holiday Parks – Darlington Beach Holiday Park has free beach wheelchairs available for use on Arrawarra Beach North of Coffs Harbour, if staying at the park.

  • NRMA Holiday Parks – Ocean Beach Holiday Park, central NSW coast for use on Umina Beach, if staying at the park.

  • Sawtell Surf Life-saving Club. 1 chair available, kept in the rescue room at SLSC, Sawtell Beach. Contact the club, ph: 02 6653 2164. This club operates October to April each year but if this number doesn't work out of season, try Sonny Tisdell on 0428 285 073.

  • Sydney area – see Bilgola Beach, Collaroy Beach, Manly Beach and Newport Beach.

  • Sutherland Shire 1 available for use from the Surf Life-saving Club on Cronulla Beach (South Cronulla). Ph: 02 9544 5399. Address: 20 – 38 Gerrale Street, Cronulla.

  • Warringah Shire – see Collaroy Beach.

  • The Independent Living Centre of NSW has beach wheelchairs available for wkly or mthly hire.

Northern Territory

None known at present

Queensland

  • Brisbane – Southbank recreation area and swimming lagoons and beach. (Accessible by rail, bus, pedestrian bridge and citycat ferry from the city). The following are available for hire from the Southbank Tourist Information Centre which is a short walk from the theatre/music buildings as you head along the bougainvillea-lined walkway into Southbank:  1 x pool wheelchair for use at Soutbank Boat Pond only. There is a specially devised ramp to help with access.  1 x beach wheelchair for use at Streets Beach4 x manual wheelchairs for general use whilst at Southbank.  Driver's license must be sighted and $20 refundable deposit required.  Hire fee of $4.40 for 1 hour, $5.50 for 2 hours and $7.70 per day. (Note: rates accurate as of 2012).

  • Bundaberg Resource Centre & Toy Library. Address 127 Woondooma Street, Bundaberg. E-mail address: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. 2 available with balloon tyres. Very transportable as the tyres come off leaving a seat. Ph: 07 4153 2909 to book. Library is open at the following times: Mon, Tues, Wed, Fri 9.00 – 1.00; Thurs 1.00 – 5.00; Sat 9.00 – 11.00. During school holidays is open Mon, Tues, Wed. Is closed for four weeks from the end of the week after school closes at Christmas (December.) So if you want a chair during this time it is advised you book in early December.

    To book you need to supply photo ID (driver's license or passport) plus a fully refundable deposit upon return of $50. If you want to hire it for more than a day there is a casual membership you must pay of $25. People borrowing the chair are warned that they should not push the chair into water higher than the axle as this can cause the chair to tip and become unstable.

  • Forrest Beach Progress Association, (Allingham). A beach chair is kept in a storeroom at Forrest Beach by the Forrest Beach Progress Association. The key is kept at Reggie's Takeaway. Apparently the chair requires two people to push it in soft sand, but is excellent for the forest tracks in the area. For more information, contact Chris Walker (President of the Forrest Beach Progress Association) on ph: 07 4777 9545 or mob: 0438 451789.

  • Gold Coast see Labrador, Southport, Surfers Paradise and Tallebudgera.

  • Hervey Bay City Council provide free hire from Torquay Beach Hire. Open every day 7.00 a.m. to 4.30 p.m. One chair available. Ph: 07 4125 5528.

    Address: 415 Esplanade, Torquay.

  • Noosa Shire – Noosa Beach ph: 5474 7400 One beach wheelchair available and a gold coin donation required.

  • Noosa Shire – Noosaville State School hire one for children from all schools. Gold coin donation required.

  • Noosa Shire – Boreen Point Ph: 5485 3043. A gold coin donation required. (See link.)

  • NRMA Holiday Park see Surfers Paradise.

  • Southport – Gold Coast Sport and Recreation Inc. $20 deposit Collect & Pick up from Owen Park, Queen St., Southport between 8 – 4 Mon to Fri. Bulky item needs large space in vehicle to pick up. Phone – 07 5531 3312 to book. Also see Labrador.

  • Surfers Paradise – 10 mins north of Surfers is the NRMA Treasure Island Holiday Park with a free beach wheelchair if you stay there.

  • Tallebudgera SLSC booking 07 5576 5866. Address: 1505 Gold Coast Highway, North Palm Beach. One beach wheelchair.

  • Torquay Beach, Hervey Bay see Hervey Bay.

  • Treasure Island Holiday Park see Surfers Paradise.

South Australia

  • None known at present.

Tasmania

  • Cerebral Palsy League of Tasmania members may hire the following:

    • Child's beach buggy

    • Adult's Beach Wheelchair

    • All Terrain Chair

From CPL Head Office, Newtown, Tasmania. There are fees plus a $50 bond. May be hired weekly or monthly.

  • Red Cross Burnie 1800 246 850 Website: redcross.org.au/TAS/...FAMobilEquip

  • Red Cross Hobart 03 6235 6031

  • Red Cross Launceston 03 6331 4624

Victoria

  • Phillip Island. Beach wheelchair with balloon tyres from Cowes Visitor Information Centre, ph: 03 5951 3396 or e-mail: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. There is a fully refundable $50 deposit and anad ditional $5.00 a day. Can be hired for more than one day. (Ramp to beach at Smith Beach, carpark with wheelchair bays and accessible toilets). Apparently some people find that this chair needs two people to help push on the soft sand. Also some may find it difficult to dismantle the chair to put into a smaller car. Easiest cars for transporting it are 4Wheel Drives or possibly station wagons.

  • Port Fairy on the Great Ocean Road. Free hire from Visitor Information Centre at Railway Place, Bank Street, Port Fairy. This beach wheelchair has tread tyres and can go into the shallow water but not deeper. Ring to book is a good idea on ph: 03 5568 2682. The best beach for access apparently is East Beach which is within walking distance of the information centre. Can be booked overnight if you wish.

  • Warrnambool Tourist Information Centre. Phone: 1800 637 725 or 03 5559 4615. A beach wheelchair with tread tyres (does not dismantle), can be booked for free from the Information Centre at the Foreshore Pavillion Hub, Lower level, (just above the beach), 50 Viaduct Road, Warrnambool. You just need to show ID and fill in a form to hire. Available for day use only. The centre is open September to April 10.00 a.m to 5.00 p.m. And after Easter until August is open 10.00 a.m. To 3.00 p.m. The beach in front of the centre is good for using the chair and there is a 7 kilometre boardwalk which runs along the coast at that point as well.

Western Australia

  • Bunbury available from Koombana Bay Sailing Club, free 7 x wk. Contact Enable Southwest who do the bookings. If you want the chair for the weekend you'd need to contact them earlier during weekdays office hours 8.30 to 4.30 on phone 08 9792 7500 to book it. It is possible to hire the chair for more than one day.

  • Bunbury. Enable Southwest also handle bookings for three other beach wheelchairs which are available for use if visiting the Dolphin Discovery Centre on Koombana Drive.. This allows people in wheelchairs to access the Dolphin Discovery beach area and the interactive zone. The chairs are free to visitors but entrance to the Dolphin Discovery Centre costs $10 per adult and $5 per child (aged 4 to 14). Three years and under is free. Hrs October to May are 8.00 a.m. To 4.00 p.m. Hrs June to September are 9.00 a.m. To 2.00 p.m. Contact: 08 9791 3088 to talk to someone at the centre..

  • Busselton Shire.

    • Equinox Cafe – Busselton foreshore near the jetty, at the end of Queen Street, keeps one which belongs to the Shire. Phone: 08 9752 4641. Free to use, but there are several forms you must complete. (See the link above). Day use only for anywhere within the Shire of Busselton. Tread tyres and fairly bulky chair. Most of it does not dismantle.

    • Naturaliste Community Centre, at Lakes Drive, Dunsborough. Phone: 08 9755 3966.

  • Cambridge (Town of) see Perth.

  • City of Perth see Perth.

  • Cape Range National Park, Milyering. The Yardie Creek Road, Visitor Information Centre in the national park. Beach wheelchair available for free at the information hut. You must show ID and complete a form. Ph: 08 9949 2808. Discuss with them if you need it for more than one day. The chair has balloon tyres and folds up to go into the car. A good beach for access from here is Turquoise Bay which has paths to the beach. Ask the info centre for further advice.

  • Coral Bay is 140 km south of Exmouth. The beach wheelchair is kept at the Information Centre hut near Bazz's Park at Bill's Bay. One chair available year round with balloon tyres. Phone: 08 9949 2808. This number takes you to the Milyering Visitors Centre and they take bookings for this chair as well as handling bookings for the chair at Cape Range National Park, so be sure to specify which chair you need. Photo ID and some basic information are required, but is otherwise free to use. Day use only and must be returned by 4.00 p.m. The day it is borrowed. It must be used only within Bill's Bay area and most of this is within walking distance of the hut where the chair is kept. If you want to use it for more than one day, you need to rebook each day and availability will depend on how much demand there is for the chair. It is strongly suggested that you ring to book the day before, especially if you want to find out how to access it early, as the Milyering Visitor Centre doesn't open till 9.00 a.m.

  • Cottesloe Beach. There is a concrete ramp and special matting placed on the sand to help with access to the water here. One beach wheelchair with tread tyres is available free to the public, seven days a week. You need to show ID to borrow it. It is kept at North Cottesloe Surf Life-saving Club. Address: 151 Marine Parade, Cottesloe 6011. The contact person here is the Manager: Yolanda, phone 08 92842626. An art event called 'Sculptures By The Sea' is held every March at Cottesloe Beach. When this is on, there are 4 beach wheelchairs available to enable as many people with disabilities as possible to access this event.

  • Exmouth Yacht Club. Requires a $50 refundable deposit. The swimming pool at Exmouth has access ramps, lift for the disabled and accessible toilets and change rooms.

  • Joondalup see Mullaloo Beach.

  • Milyering see Cape Range National Park.

  • Monkey Mia. The Department of Environment and Conservation (DEC) have one free beach wheelchair that is specifically available for the public to use at Monkey Mia beach, seven days a week. No photo ID or forms are required. It is specifically intended for assisting visitors to access the dolphin interactions, but other visitors in the past have also used it to access the jetty to go on boat cruises and to get down to the water for a swim. Just let them know your requirements and they will try and help where possible. It is kept in the DEC office at Monkey Mia. Please visit the DEC booking office at Monkey Mia to enquire or call 08-9948 1366. The office operates seven days a week and office hours are between 8am and 4pm. Best time to call is after 10a.m as staff may be involved in helping with dolphin interactions earlier than this. On the rare occasions that two visitors wished to use the chair on the same day, they managed to come to an arrangement where both parties shared use of the chair. This would be coordinated by DEC staff.

    For visitors with their own beach wheelchairs, the Monkey Mia beach has wheelchair access, as does Shark Bay, Shell Beach, Hamelin Pool and Eagle Bluff boardwalk. The Little Lagoon and the Denham Foreshore have some access points.

  • Mullaloo Beach, Oceanside Promenade, Mullaloo.

    Phone: 08 9483 1111 or toll free 1800 812 808

    Mullaloo Beach, Joondalup, have one beach wheelchair you can hire for free from the Mullaloo Surf Life Saving Club.

  • Ningaloo Reef. (120 kms south of Exmouth) have one beach wheelchair you can hire for free from Milyering Visitor Centre. There is a concrete path down to the beach at Mettams Pool.

  • Perth. One beach wheelchair is kept at the Perth Surf Life Saving Club. Contact Town of Cambridge Beach Inspector for access and assistance. Phone – 08 9244 1222.

  • Rottnest Island – 1 beach wheelchair is available for hire from the Rottnest Island Bike Hire with a fully refundable $25 deposit. The linked website has a lot of information specifically written with people with disabilities in mind. The site says two wheelchairs are available, but this is no longer the case. No identification is required. The chair has tread type wheels. Phone the Bike Hire Shop on ph: +61 08 9292 5105 between 8.30 a.m and 4.30 p.m to book. It is open seven days a week. The beach wheelchair can be booked for up to two weeks if desired. The only obvious beach access for wheelchairs is a ramp at Thomson Bay. Also note that the 'Marine Machine' (referred to on the linked site) used to take people with disabilities to fishing spots around the island is no longer available. For more information on Rottnest Island phone the Visitor's Centre: 08 93729730.